Being in college opens you up to a lot of things, whether they're being taught to you by a professor or you read it on the national newspaper while passing the Starbucks in your student Union. Stuff you can't even understand, in countries you would have no confidence pointing out on a globe, dealing with traditions or beliefs you had no clue even existed. Or, you notice them right on your own campus. In your hometown. In your group of friends.
September's Round Robin:
What current issues are important to you? How often do modern social or global issues take place in your stories no matter what era or genre you write?
Class systems/racism grace everywhere from international news to local newspapers to those two old ladies gossiping right behind you: they also worm their way through several of my manuscripts.
In The Christmas Lights, my main character Louis has a hard time living in 1800s Pennsylvania because he's handicapped; stricken with severe myopia, he can barely see. He also lives in poverty, a big no-no when he wants to court one of the wealthier girls in town. Townspeople think him stupid, pitiful, a subject to whisper about. When he goes abroad to seek his fortune, Europeans look down on him because he's American and Americans are obviously brash and stupid.
Actual racism applies to a book coming out tentatively in 2017, Serpents and Flame: both of my main characters are of low blood status. Celeste is the daughter of a mortal and a Gorgon: one of the three sisters from Greek mythology who were cursed into having snake tails, tusks, bronze fingernails, and snakes for hair just because one of the sisters loved Poseidon. She lives in current day but is forced to live on a secluded island for her own safety; self-hatred consumes her. Andro, my second MC, is a Not-Quite: the son of a demigod and a mortal woman, he only has the barest of advantages over a simple mortal like you or me. He's a little quicker, maybe, perhaps a bit more skilled in sight and hearing, etc., but he's nothing in a world of heroes, enchantresses, and gods. Both characters are treated, at turns, as if they are worthless, simply marionettes to be played with by higher forces.
In another book I just finished writing and am editing, Monet Evanesce, a Polish immigrant in Paris simply wants to be an artist. He is ridiculed for his financial status, his ethnicity, his age, his learning background--even his last name. That's more of social class, and sort of has a personal twinge behind it--my last name is Kosinski. I'm a quarter Polish. Polish people are stereotyped as stupid, fat, and short--when have you ever read an exciting book where the hero hails from Poland? What even happens in Poland? Well, Jos Roszak is from Poland, and I made him the most talented forger in the twentieth century.
Lastly, feminism/sexism is something I am both wary and excited to talk about. I mean equal-rights-for-men-and-women. I mean women not making .70 for every dollar a guy makes doing the exact same job. What I don't mean is every-man-is-a-pig-and-let's-burn-down-the-patriarchy. I want a woman president if she's the best choice out of all the candidates, not just because she sports a uterus. Celeste, that MC from that book maybe coming out two years from now, does hate men in the beginning, but that's only because of the whole Gorgon curse thing and how her own father sort of tried to kill her mother after he realized she was a monster...it has nothing to do with feminism, promise. She is equal to my male MC in terms of saving the day and figuring stuff out, and you'll never find her tripping on a root and just lying there, waiting for the bad thing to come. In Monet Evanesce, woman AND men play in positions of authority and are treated with equal respect. In Nicholas, a novella tentatively coming out next winter, a very young woman rises to rule 18th-century-ish Britain with a firm hand, refusing to back down over things like murderous male plottings.
Alright. I'm going to back off the current issues now. What are you currently carrying a torch for? Animal rights? An end to terrorism? Free tofu for all? :)
Other authors slip on their activist robes at the links below; discover current issues you maybe didn't even know had to be addressed!